On January 6, we reported that any talks between Mets and Cubs on Kris Bryant were no longer active. That was true at the time. TIL it has changed since. Unclear how likely it is to happen, but there is at least something there.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 11, 2021
“Something there.” No mention of what that something is, no rumored return, just one tweet.
Martino followed up with this 176-word article (in other words, a really short one), which mentions a few Mets players but not in the actual context of a trade, and also says:
SNY’s Jim Duquette has recently reported that Chicago is more likely to hold on to Bryant until the July 31 trade deadline unless they were blown away by an offer.
Martino then more-or-less confirmed Jim Duquette’s report on Twitter later Thursday:
Incremental update: The Cubs still don’t appear overly motivated to move Bryant before Opening Day and would need to be convinced https://t.co/uP5ugGetbd— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) February 11, 2021
There are quite a few people around, it seems to me, who think the Cubs are ... well, you pick your term: “rebuilding,” “blowing it up,” “tanking.” It’s my view they’re doing none of these things. Just one significant Cubs player has been traded this offseason: Yu Darvish. Jon Lester departed via free agency, and yes, I’d have liked him back, but questions remain about how effective he’ll be at age 37 and theoretically has been replaced by a pitcher who has more upside (Trevor Williams). Kyle Schwarber left via free agency and was replaced by a player (Joc Pederson) whose skillset is nearly identical. Victor Caratini was sent to the Padres in the Darvish deal and was replaced by a player (Austin Romine) who is arguably a better hitter and only a slight downgrade defensively.
The 2021 Cubs appear, to me, to still be a pretty good team. There are several hitters remaining from the World Series core (Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras) who are still among the better players in the league, though Bryant, Rizzo and Baez had down years in 2020. That happened to a lot of players in the weird 60-game sprint last year.
Further, the NL Central appears to be anyone’s division. The Cardinals added Nolan Arenado, but several projections have them as a .500 ballclub. There’s no reason the Cubs couldn’t contend in this division with what they have.
And speaking of the Arenado deal, do the Cubs really want a return like that for Bryant? I’d think they’d want players closer to the major leagues. They’re not going to get that in February. They might in July.
So my feeling is that the Cubs will keep Kris Bryant and see if they do indeed contend this summer. If they don’t, and Bryant nevertheless recovers to his 2019 level of performance, the Cubs could get much more in trade for him at the July 31 deadline than they would now. And if they keep Bryant past the deadline, whether they win the division or not, they can make him a qualifying offer and at least get draft pick compensation if he leaves. (I am assuming teams can do that next November, even though the CBA expires December 1.)
Andy Martino’s article seems like a bit of clickbait. For that matter, so is this one, I’ll freely admit that. Paul Sullivan wrote this column late Thursday in which he said, essentially, that not trading Bryant now would be a “distraction.” Only if KB allows that, and I’m pretty sure he won’t.
In my view, Kris Bryant will be a Cub when they open the season April 1 at Wrigley Field against the Pirates... and probably for at least three months beyond that.
WILL the Cubs trade Kris Bryant before the 2021 season begins?
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SHOULD the Cubs trade Kris Bryant before the 2021 season begins?
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